I have always loved large cities. And traveling has just increased that love and fascination. What is it about these magnificent cities that lure me back again and again?
A Paris street. Photo by me
I think there is something incredibly special about spending a day in a major city–visiting museums,
maybe a movie or a show…
Times Square in New York City, featuring a movie, a play or just people watching. Photo by me.
or a bit of leisurely window shopping…
Window shopping in Paris. Photo by me.
A shop windows near St. James’s Palace in London, photo by me.
And then when you have just about had enough (but never quite), and your feet cannot carry you another block, you find a corner of a cozy park to settle down in with a cup of coffee or a cold drink.
Central Park in summer, with a jazz musician playing under the bridge. Photo by me.
I think it is part of what makes a great city, well, great. A green oasis in the center of the bustle and noise. They have their own excitement and energy…
Central Park in summer, photo by me.
But also moments of peace and tranquility.
Sailing boats in Central Park, NYC. Photo by me.
Of course, I grew up near New York City on Long Island, and spent many happy hours in Central Park. And in the decades I worked in Washington, DC as a graphic designer, I also had a small studio apartment in NYC right across the street from Central Park. I could walk out the door of the building, cross the heavy traffic of Central Park West and I was in that very special place…a city park.
One of Central Park’s Broad Avenues. Photo by me
I have many images of Central Park that I have been looking at and sketching as part of the “Cities” series of paintings I have been working on this year. One of the things I have noticed working on this series is how similar the great parks are. Although each region has its own personality, the parks also have common elements–the broad walking paths, gorgeous ancient trees, people playing games…socializing…walking, and cool swaths of rolling lawn. And of course a water feature.
St. James Park, London. Photo by me.
In London, I think my favorite park is St. James’s Park.
The London park’s incredible flowers. Is it the abundance of rain? Photo by me.
Right down the street from Buckingham Palace you can always find a garden or a group of ducks on the edge of the lake that help to rejuvenate you.
One of St. James’s noisiest residents. Photo by me.
Kensington Gardens, a Royal Park, is one of my new favorites in London, just between Hyde Park and Kensington Palace. On my last trip to London in November it was golden, and I managed to take lots of pictures.
Kensington Park, London. Photo by me.
Luckily a painting was born. I look at this, and see any of the parks I have visited in large cities. This is just the beginning, but although it is Kensington, it could be a scene in New York or Paris.
The beginning of a painting of Kensington Park. Oil sketch by me
The three women are connecting with each other as they stroll through the lanes. You can hear children playing the background, maybe a dog barking, but mostly it is a quiet space where the women stroll in their own special world. The beauty of parks in a big city is it offers the residents a place to come together before retreating back to their small, or large, living spaces behind locked doors.
It reminds me of the painting I did of Bath, England a few years ago. The two women are alone under the trees walking and talking.
“The Voyeur”, painting by me.
In Paris, my favorite park is definitely, without a doubt, the Tuileries. It is a spectacular park. And is so “Parisian”.
The Tuileries in Paris. Photo by me.
All the elements of the other parks are there. The social games…
My version of the scene…
The water feature…
The edge of the Tuileries with the Louvre in the background. Photo by me.
The grand trees and broad avenues …
A lovely road through the park. Photo by me.
In Paris, everything is so neatly trimmed unlike the wild abandon of the English parks…
Kensington’s ducks being fed. Photo by me.
Or the naturally sculpted woods of Central Park…
Central Park’s rolling lawns. Photo by me.
But each has its own special magic. I can’t imagine if I really had to pick a favorite, which it would be.
Good night, dear cities. Sleep well. Your parks will wake up early in the morning.
Paris from my hotel window. Just beyond the rooftops, is The Tuileries. Photo by me.